Niamh Crosbie reviews Eirtakon, which took place over the weekend of November 13th 2015.
One of Dublin’s most iconic venues was taken over by colour and excitement on the weekend of the 13th to the 15th of November. Eirtakon – Ireland’s largest anime convention – ran for the eleventh year after its inception by Dublin City University students Doyle and Duggan back in 2004. This year’s event took place in Croke Park, spanning several levels and conference rooms of the venue. The name of the convention comes from the term “Eirtaku”, which means an “Irish otaku”. Otaku is a term used to describe somebody whose passion for a particular hobby (for example, anime) impacts their life and social skills. Around 4,000 “Eirtakus” of all ages flocked to Croke Park.
The Artists’ Alley and Trade Hall at Eirtakon were pretty much what any seasoned convention-goer would come to expect – a decent mixture of traditional Japanese iconography and popular anime merchandise, as well as a wealth of independent artists for whom the convention was an opportunity to display and sell their work. However, Eirtakon also places particular evidence on promoting the actual media from which these works of art and pieces of merchandise arise – manga and anime. A self-professed convention for anime, Eirtakon had a large selection of anime box sets for sale, and even hosted a dedicated “Manga Library”, separate from the trade hall itself. Attendees of Eirtakon also display a much greater enthusiasm and interest for cosplay, when compared to those at comic-centred conventions such as those which took place in the summer of 2015. Outfits ranged from subtle to extravagant, with attendees as young as eight or nine arriving in fully-fledged costumes of anime characters.
The convention also presented a series of anime screenings; the Sunday screening of Denpa Kyoushi (“He Is an Ultimate Teacher”) had a pretty low attendance, but this is to be expected at a convention which offers such a wide variety of activities to its visitors. However, the screenings present anime fans with opportunities to engage with material that they might not otherwise encounter.
The highlight of my visit was the “Cosplay Skits” performance, which took place in the convention’s main event hall. The show consisted of attendees in cosplay showcasing their various talents, including a comedian dressed as Luigi from Super Mario Bros, who named his act “Project Luigi”, who claimed that he was possessed by three spirits at once – those of Sean Connery, Michael Jackson, and John Cena. The other acts included a dancer cosplaying popular Pokemon Pikachu, and a dancing duo dressed as Thor and Loki from the Marvel Universe.
While perhaps not as exciting as any of the Comic Conventions of the summer, Eirtakon is well worth a visit for cosplayers and anime fans. Expected to have attracted over 4,000 visitors over the three days, Eirtakon and its popularity are evidence that the “Eirtaku” spirit is truly alive in Dublin.